Editor’s note: This column originally appeared in the Sidney Daily News on July 26.
Let me be clear. I want to be supportive of the president and his policies. As a farmer, we voted for the president because he purported to represent a “can do, just get it done” attitude. That attitude is the core of farm folks. But the president’s trade war, now being supported by hush money to keep agriculture sedated, is a bridge too far for me. This week the president announced he is offering $12 billion of borrowed taxpayer monies to continue to “have farmer’s backs.” These dollars are nothing more than verification that the president’s protectionist’s trade policies are folly.
Let me tell you a riddle. “I slept with a billionaire because he said he loved me. I expected to make love, but in the morning I realized I was getting screwed. When I went to tell the world, I was offered cash to keep my mouth shut.” Who am I? No, I’m not a model or someone named Stormy. I’m the American farmer.
In the mid-1980s we were awash with over production in the corn and soybean sectors. Agriculture got busy, boarded planes, trains and automobiles and started building markets around the world, one handshake and one relationship at a time. We used our own funds through our check off dollars and trade associations to build markets in Mexico, Canada, Latin America and the Pacific Rim. And we didn’t stop there. In partnership with the U.S. taxpayers, we built an ethanol industry to ensure another renewable energy source for U.S. consumers.
The world markets, which the president is now tearing down in the name of fairness, were built and paid for by farmers to ensure agriculture had outlets for our production so we didn’t have to come to the American taxpayer for support.
We keep hearing about the “Art of the Deal.” I’m waiting for the “Art” portion. Using a club to bludgeon our trading partners and allies is not negotiating. It’s nothing more than a playground bully stomping around to see who will flinch.
These pay-off dollars will do little more than put a target on agriculture’s back and make agriculture no better than those who come hat in hand wanting something for nothing. Farmers historically enjoy goodwill from the American public and taxpayer. This scheme will result in non-farm state legislators turning their back on agriculture when we need real help.
I spent 30 years administering federal farm programs with the USDA. I’ve administered and supported disaster programming, conservation programming, and price and supply stabilization. I believed in those supports because I believe a strong agriculture is directly related to our national security. I’ve never administered hush money designed to make me sit down and shut up about a ridiculous protectionist trade policy that has destroyed in a matter of months what my industry built with our own hands over decades.
The president calls ‘em like he sees them, and so do I. I won’t be silent any longer.
The writer and his family own and operate 560 acres in Shelby and Logan counties. They raise corn, soybeans, hay, and cattle.